From 1921 to 1924, Elmer Frederick “Irish” Meusel was John McGraw’s left-fielder on four consecutive pennant winning and two world championship teams. His four season RBI total for the Giants beginning in 1922, was 470.
Irish was not, however, the best left fielder playing for the home team in the Polo Grounds, back then. He was not even considered the best left-fielder in his family. That honor went to his younger and much more ornery brother Bob, who played for the Yankees. The Big Apple has not had a set of better-playing brothers since the Meusels were in town.
Consider this. In 1922, Irish drove in 111 runs for the Giants and “Long Bob” led the AL in RBIs with 138. That’s a total of 249 RBI’s from one set of brothers. In 1941, The DiMaggio boys had 283 RBIs in one season but there were three of them. Even more impressively, in the five seasons from 1921 until 1925, the Meusel brothers combined to drive in 1,125 runs.
If the Meusel’s were around today, I could see Reebok or Nike releasing a new pair of baseball shoes. The left one would be called the “Irish” and the right one, “Long Bob.” Or perhaps modern sneaker companies would have been turned off by the attitude and behavior of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant.
As I dug deeper into the younger Meusel’s background, I found he had developed a reputation for being lazy on the field. Such criticism came not just from sportswriters of that era but from Meusel’s own Manager, the great Miller Huggins. It was also referenced in his New York Time’s obituary which stated that Meusel’s alleged laziness may have been in appearance only, caused by the fact that the tall, graceful athlete had such a long and loping stride, that he always looked like he was running slow even when he was not. I also found articles indicating that Meusel was not known as a very friendly guy. In 1924, he charged the pitcher in a game in Detroit with his bat-in-hand setting off one of the worst riots in MLB history. Other published accounts described the California native as “dark” and “moody” and a perennial complainer especially when it was time to sign a
contract or comply with a league rule.
But no one disputes Meusel’s five-tool talent on the field. This guy could run, hit, hit for power, field and had a shotgun for an arm. He played left field for one of the greatest Yankee teams in history and during his decade in New York the Yankees appeared in their first six World Series and earned the franchise’s first three championship banners. Meusel’s Yankee career ended when he was sold to the Reds after the 1929 season. During his ten seasons in pinstripes he hit 146 home runs, drove in 1,005 runs, hit .311 and maintained a .500 slugging percentage.
|NYY (10 yrs)||1294||5543||5032||764||1565||338||87||146||1002||134||349||556||.311||.358||.500||.858|
|CIN (1 yr)||113||484||443||62||128||30||8||10||62||9||26||63||.289||.330||.460||.790|
I was one of those Yankee fans who screamed the loudest when the recently departed George Steinbrenner pegged this guy to replace Buck Showalter as Yankee manager after the 1995 playoff loss to Seattle. We had good reason to be skeptics. Up until then, Torre had managed the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, losing an average of 90 games per year and compiling a dreadful .472 winning percentage. It seemed as if the Yankees had turned the corner with Showalter and when he got fired, one year after the miserable players strike, I was about ready to stop watching baseball.
Boy was I wrong. 1996 turned out to be one of the, if not the greatest years of my life as a Yankee fan and Joe Torre’s managerial skills were a huge part of the reason why. Not only was he adept at Steinbrenner diplomacy, he was also a great communicator with his players and it seemed every move he made from the dugout was the right one.
Joe’s tenure with the Yankees was a wonderful time in the team’s history (although my euphoria has been significantly dampened with the steroids usage disclosures involving several Yankees who played for Torre) and Yankee fans will always admire and be grateful for the calm, professional way he handled the immense pressure and responsibilities that came with the job.
Here’s a look at the regular season career Yankee won-loss records of the top five winning managers in pinstripe history:
|Manager – World Championships||Wins||Losses||Pct.|
|Joe McCarthy – 7||1460||867||.627|
|Joe Torre – 4||1173||767||.605|
|Casey Stengel – 7||1149||696||.623|
|Miller Huggins – 3||1067||719||.597|
|Ralph Houk – 2||944||806||.539|
Joe shares a birthday with this Yankee pitcher, who started the first game ever in the newly renovated Yankee Stadium in April of 1976. This former Yankee pinch-hitter was also born on July 18th as was this much more recent NY utility infielder.
Here’s Torre’s season-by-season record as Yankee skipper and his lifetime totals by teams he managed during his career:
|16||1996||55||New York Yankees||AL||162||92||70||.568||1||WS Champs|
|17||1997||56||New York Yankees||AL||162||96||66||.593||2|
|18||1998||57||New York Yankees||AL||162||114||48||.704||1||WS Champs|
|19||1999||58||New York Yankees||AL||162||98||64||.605||1||WS Champs|
|20||2000||59||New York Yankees||AL||161||87||74||.540||1||WS Champs|
|21||2001||60||New York Yankees||AL||161||95||65||.594||1||AL Pennant|
|22||2002||61||New York Yankees||AL||161||103||58||.640||1|
|23||2003||62||New York Yankees||AL||163||101||61||.623||1||AL Pennant|
|24||2004||63||New York Yankees||AL||162||101||61||.623||1|
|25||2005||64||New York Yankees||AL||162||95||67||.586||1|
|26||2006||65||New York Yankees||AL||162||97||65||.599||1|
|27||2007||66||New York Yankees||AL||162||94||68||.580||2|
|New York Mets||5 years||709||286||420||.405||5.3|
|Atlanta Braves||3 years||486||257||229||.529||2.0|
|St. Louis Cardinals||6 years||706||351||354||.498||3.5|
|New York Yankees||12 years||1942||1173||767||.605||1.2||6 Pennants and 4 World Series Titles|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||3 years||486||259||227||.533||2.0|
|29 years||4329||2326||1997||.538||2.6||6 Pennants and 4 World Series Titles|
Jack Aker was traded to New York from Seattle early in the 1969 regular season for fellow-reliever, Freddie Talbot. Yankee manager, Ralph Houk used his new right-hander as the team’s closer the last four months of that season and Aker responded well to that role by winning eight of twelve decisions and earning 11 saves. He then followed that performance up with his best season as a Yankee in 1970, when he recorded 16 saves, won 4 of 6 decisions and posted a sterling 2.06 ERA. He was 16-10 during his three plus seasons in pinstripes with a total of 31 saves. He became expendable in 1972, after Sparky Lyle joined the team and when New York acquired Johnny Callison from the Cubs for a player to be named later in January of 1972, Aker became that player to be named later. His 32 saves for the lowly Athletics in 1966 led the American League. When he retired after the 1974 season, he had 123 lifetime saves.
|OAK (5 yrs)||19||20||.487||3.54||220||0||142||0||0||58||343.1||302||146||135||30||121||210||1.232|
|NYY (4 yrs)||16||10||.615||2.23||124||0||75||0||0||31||197.1||161||58||49||10||71||101||1.176|
|CHC (2 yrs)||10||11||.476||3.51||95||0||71||0||0||29||130.2||141||64||51||12||46||61||1.431|
|NYM (1 yr)||2||1||.667||3.48||24||0||16||0||0||2||41.1||33||18||16||4||14||18||1.137|
|ATL (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.78||17||0||8||0||0||0||16.2||17||11||7||3||9||7||1.560|
|SEP (1 yr)||0||2||.000||7.56||15||0||9||0||0||3||16.2||25||15||14||4||13||7||2.280|